Student Frank pointed out this cool short film from Aardman. If I read the subtle nuances between the lines in the email, I think the film may remind him of a recent experience he's had trying to get a film finished with some fellow students. But that could just be me reading to much into it.

And just because I can't help but think of Aardman without thinking about it I did a quick search for some Morph animation. I grew up watching Morph long before I knew what Aardman was, its nice to know that one of animations modern day juggernauts had such humble beginnings.


franko said...

Ha, ha! Now there is at least one comment!

animation student said...

The Director of the BAFTA winning short animated film "Fetch" (AXIS Animation) had some interesting comments:

"It's crazy to think that although I have directed several TV commercials, game cinematics and a few animated sequences for broadcast projects I haven't until now made a short film.

It's not that I haven't wanted to make a short. In fact the opposite is true. Creating films and storytelling was a key factor in why I got into the industry.

I came from a painting background so I missed out on the opportunity to make a student short and I recommend that every animation student out there make the most of their time at school because it really is a once in a life time opportunity.

It's easy for someone to say, "If you really want to do it you should make time."

But in the real world it's often not that simple, especially when you have a family that needs your support and attention."

(from here:

Terry said...

Amen and hallelujah to that, Mr or Ms. Anonymous Animation Student!

Ian said...

WARNING WARNING! Big Rant Approaching!

The comments may be true IF the students is studying because of a love of story telling. But in my experience only about 10 percent of students are studying because they love story (in fact I’d say that’s a generous estimate). The sad truth is that most of our students are here because they like drawing Manga or something.

I don't have a problem with students telling stories, but at least tell a story that showcases your abilities as an animator. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that I have NEVER seen a student do this. NOT ONE SINGLE TIME!

What almost always happens is that the student spends to much time working on the story and then fudges the animation. This BAFTA winning person admits that he/she never had the oportunity to make a film as a student, I think he/she perhaps has an idealized view of how rewarding an experience it is.

If learning to animate was like learning to ride a bike, then encouraging an animation student to make a whole story is like encouraging someone to jump Springfield Gorge before they are off their training wheels.

This person says its a "once in a life time opportunity", but he/she has just directed an award winning short. What if spending his/her time as a student working on a film instead of learning about basic principles and how to apply them (even as a painter you’re learning about composition, colour, character etc) meant that the latter opportunity to work on the short didn’t happen. One “once in a life time opportunity” traded for another, the opportunity to work on a BAFTA winning short will undoubtedly lead on to more once in a life time opportunities, a poorly animated student film won’t.

Students should be taught as much as about story as can possibly be squeezed into an animation course. Scripts, boards and animatics, bring it on! Any of these things can be used to demonstrate storytelling skills in a folio or reel. But the chances of a student coming up with a story they are happy with that also covers and demonstrates all the skills and techniques they need to get a foot hold in the industry are minute.

I have a quote of my own, “Only the impotent are pure”- Gough Whitlam. What’s the point in telling one grate story if we miss the “once in a lifetime opportunity” to gain knowledge and skills that may empower us to make a million other wonderful pieces of animation in the future (for films or otherwise). The ideal is that you can somehow have your cake and eat it too, but I’m afraid I’m a realist and I’ve seen little proof that it can happen. I’ve certainly never taught anyone who has managed it.

Now let me get to the real travesty here. An animator is given a special opportunity that no other artist gets. They get to "design" an acting performance. Its still a form of story telling, but on a micro level. You don't need an entire narrative to do it. It’s the magic bit of what animators do, the bit that makes an audience sigh, laugh, sob or cheer. It’s the ability to give a non living thing emotions and make them change over time, it’s the illusion of life! ITS ANIMATION!

In Australia this is without a doubt the most neglected part of animation teaching, I think people who don’t know about it think its mystical and that some people can do it and others can’t, but its not true. The more I have learnt about animation the more I have realised that it’s a craft that can be researched, studied and honed. It borders on offensive to me for someone to assert that if you focus on story you can just pick up what you need to know about animation along the way. Egad we are talking about exploring the billions of subtle nuances of human behaviour and movement here people!

For some reason when you let a student loose on a complete narrative they forget all about this special kind of storytelling and I’m yet to see a student film from our course where the characters actions and performances are refined, reworked and “crafted”. Maybe it could be different in a longer course, but somehow I doubt it. I think students will tend to stew in a story for as longs as you will possibly let them before actually animating, resulting in rushed animation. Could it be that the actual animation is less subjective than a story and demands that a greater risk be taken by the artist?

I bet any other animation teachers reading could recall conversations with students where they have solemnly asserted that they always intended to tell a story that was “kind of random and hard to follow” or “so obvious and clichéd, kind of like a parody of a cartoon”, or where “I wanted to explore stereotypical characters”. When it comes to story students can hide within the subjective nature of idea. Maybe its not a conscious thing, but who can blame an insecure student for being reluctant to move from that space into a part of the process where I (or anyone else) can say, “that bit doesn’t work”, or “ this gesture lacks meaning”, or “the character is twinning there”, or “make sure you don’t go to far off balance on that key”, or “the character isn’t progressing”, or “the timing is too even there” and on and on and on.

One of our students made a film this last year that was a parody of an old computer game, avoiding story and quality of animation issues (random fights and violence, key frames held for too long and no inbetweens). It may not have been intentional, but its unmistakable that the idea for a film has allowed the student to sidestep the intense communication, scrutiny and reworking required to create a well crafted piece of animation.

I think its time for some tough love. Rob the students of their narrative, find the characters story within a simple chain of actions or line of dialogue. Refine the animation until it sings at every moment. Use the time you have as a student to hone your craft, otherwise this once in a lifetime opportunity may be the only opportunity you ever have.

frank said...

Egads! Gadzooks!

That rant is worth reading a few times over. Excellent rant.

One way of robbing a student of this urge to make an animated film story is to tell them their allocated time for working on it is midnight to 3am. AND that it is not allowed to interfere with learning how, more specifically: sitting down at the disc and line tester, to ACTUALLY animate.

Interweaved in our first year of studies some of us thought it might be a good learning experience to collaborate on a narrative short film.

It was a learning experience in many ways. But I have to agree with Ian, the basic craft skills of animating were sacrificed to the subjective procrastination that dominates a project when the collaborators don't really know fully what they/we were doing.

We did achieve a film. 4 minutes 54 seconds and 12 frames. Thus completing our primary aim of "finishing something".

The project is about 2 months past the deadline.

The whole thing almost fell into a heap. Yes, the animation is rushed and falls way short of what we imagined. But I'm also glad that some of the collaborators got something to show for almost 6 months production time.

I definitely have had my fill of making a film and am looking forward to animating more in 2008.

Ian said...

Here is another way I've thought of putting it.

Jumping out the window of a highrise building is a "once in a lif time experience".

Only problem is you don't get to expirience anything else from then on.

Lisa said...

unless you are a very lucky window washer...


Terry said...

Late reponse here... Ian I see your point and mostly agree. But I do think that there have been some worthwhile narrative films made at SBIT and other tertiary institutes. Someone like Steve Baker (who I know is an anomaly) appears whose passion and skill with narrative makes up for any technical limitations (at least in my opinion). I do agree that most students are better off with showreels though.

frank said...

I think it would be good to have a 'best of' or 'most commented' link to these find threads that get the most opinion.

Ian said...

My thoughts on someone link Steve are that you could not stop him making naratives if your life depended on it.

But I would also say that Steve is not an animator first, I think (but by no means attempt to speak on his behalf) he wants to make live action film. I think its the stories he cares about first, animation was just one way he found of achieving that.

I don't think we should or would ever exclude people like Steve, but we can't write a course just for them either.

You would have to concede that Steve is the exception to the rule, but you always use him as an example. In the ten(ish) years you have been teaching, how many like him have you taught. Also if Steve had mainly been taught technique, you don't know if his film may have even been more successful, it may have even deepened his love of the craft so that he felt more motivated to stay with it now.

I would characterise Steve’s films as painting with broad strokes that convey very original and well delivered concepts. Imagine if he could also punctuate the broader ideas with the kinds of “micro” stories I mentioned in my first big rant. Drawing us into the characters and empowering him to connect with an even broader audience.
I am of course aware that Steve may already be able to do this and just choose not to concentrate on that part of the process, but lets face it this is all hypothetical.

Lets remember that I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach story, I’m just saying that taking almost any student film idea through to final animation within a 2 year course that also has to cover workplace health and safety, communications, multi media, web design, 3D modelling/rigging/texturing, motion graphics and so on erodes away at the precious time allowed to learn the craft of animating. The benefits of learning about story are still there for the student.

I love story, a want to have to the opportunity to teach and talk about story with students. The journey I took with the anim8 group in 2007 should be proof of this, there were days when I was truly swept up in the excitement. But I regret it, I think a few of those involved are drifting from us now in part because of the experience.

I would like to think that the student film I made at Tafe was a bit of a stand out for its time ( a little further back than Steve), when I took it to Disney, they didn’t get past the first 25 seconds and said, “well you must have done some inbetweens when you made this?” I lied and said yes, later I would see that I didn’t even fully understand what an inbetween was, but because I keep my mouth shut I managed to pick it up. There were others I saw come through from QLD in the following years who wernt so good at biting their toungs, they were quickly shown the door.

Back then the focus was completely on story, there was one or two weeks tops of course content on technique or craft, months and months on storyboards. This was Disney, if any employer in Australia was going to take the time to care about my storytelling skills it should have been them. I have seen nothing to indicate that the industry has changed in this regard since, in fact I would say with the massive proliferation of games studios the emphasis has come further away from story.

I wish so much that a teacher at Southbank or QCA could have shown me the true way to do an inbetween and explained to me the crucial roll their placement plays in the final feel of a piece of animation. I know now that the teachers probably didn’t even know themselves. Today’s equivalent might be showing a student how to use the Graph Editor in order to time some inbetweens for weight or punch. When students choose their own animation they can side step that discussion completely.

Teaching with an emphasis on the craft still further empowers the animator weather they are going to make stories or not. But within the context of our course allowing students to pick their own animation content, sacrifices skills that may allow them to continue animating in the future.

Good idea about the links Frank, I'll look into making a side menu item near the top of the page.

Terry said...

Hmmm... y'know, when I sit down and absorb everything that's been written, I don't actually disagree with anything you said, and I don't think you disagree with anything I said. I think my perspective is slightly different because I am more open to narratives, but I agree that usually showreels are the go. We complement each other well, I-Man!

Terry said...

Actually, one thing... I think that there have been some really great narrative films that have come out of the course over the past few years. I won't name names because I know that you aren't very fond of some of them, but again, diversity of opinion is always a good thing! (Well, usually, anyway...)

Terry said...

Bah! I keep thinking of more to say!

Want to add that I wholeheartedly agree that we shouldn't return to the days of emphasising story over craft. There is too much technical stuff to learn now - we can't navel-gaze for months as we ponder story ideas.

In a perfect world, to me, students would focus on craft in the first year and then apply that craft in year 2 to either a showreel or a narrative film that allows them to show off their craft AND tell a story. (Not that they would stop learning craft in Year 2 either.)

But, as you say, it's difficult to find a story that can be told effectively without compromising the craft side of things. In otehr words, students doing narrative films often take shortcuts with the animation, resulting in a compromised final product.

Ian said...

Wow, I didn't think there was anyone I wasn't very "fond" of.

Ony one I can think you might mean is KT (ha ha I'll name names). I don't know if you know but there is a slim chance I might work with KT again in the future. I think shes the bees knees, and love that she will give me a piece of her mind if she thinks I need it. She definately touches a similar catagory to Steve, in that there was no stopping her. She was going to tell her story and that is that. I think if you can listen to everything I have to say and still just have to do it then thats great, go for it.

KT might be reading and comment, but I have herd her say in other comments her that should would love to have the oportunity now to just focus in on a piece of her bast quality animation (or words to that effect), something she couldn't manage while making the epic student film she did.

KT and I have talked about it since, and I think we both have a great understanding. She rocks.

I agree that we compliment each other. I think one of the great things that has emerged (even though we didn't plan it) is that we openly use our difference to offer different perspective to the students. I cant emaging that happening at QCA or QUT.

Ian said...

I don't think it is hard to find stories that compliment the learning experience. I just think students and or young people are crap at it.

When I was studying I thought the stories I was making were so important. When I look back now they were just a streem of self absorbed nonsence. I was no better than a studnet who today would want to make a rip off of Southpark, Robotech or Rejected, I couldn't see it and because as far as I was concerned it was up to me and no teacher was going to stop me.

I can't expect students to be different these days. But maybe we can structure things in a way that guides them towards the things they should be animating because they are what they will learn from.

Terry said...

No no no, I didn't mean that there was any STUDENTS that you weren't fond of - I know you love them all, and they love you! I meant FILMS that you weren't fond of, and yes, I was thinking of KT's in particular. (You psychic!) I know you didn't exactly hate it, but you didn't share my overwhelming enthusiasm for it. Interesting to hear about her change of heart. You traitor KT!

frank said...

Speaking of the craft, and as a student, I think the course has been a bit 'light on' in life drawing.

I'm not sure if it's funds or that teenagers get bored quickly, but I think more human figure drawing would have been better than drawing from picture references to build our animation skills?

Did I see a 'making of' doco on some animation that said that studios will look at the animator job applicant's ability to draw from life over and above their character designs clad in armour and weaponry? Or these days, is it all about how well an animator can drive Maya? (that's a baited hook, people)

I see that the winner of the latest 11SecondClub, Lauren Andersson, and that chap Victor Navone (Pixar) both have quite a bit of their life drawing/ human figure work on their blogs.

With the stumble of Queensland Animators Inc and the , where can a second year student build up a bit more a a portfolio for their showreel?

I sketch when I'm out and about. Is that the stuff to do?

I admire the work ethic of the cartoonist Robert Crumb, he just seemed to be drawing all the time. BUT NOT like an animator!

I'd love to see a mix of the animator style drawing (like the Glen Keane clips where he's finding the lines) that Ian is passionate about and the few life drawing classes with the model.

Your thoghts O wizened ones...

frank said...

Terry needs an avitar. I mean, really, how can we take him seriously in Blogworld? :)

frank said...

Getting back to the Aardman animation Deadline, Ian did you check out the name of the books on the right side of screen?

"I kept the rattly thing."

Terry said...

Hey Frank, I don't really know how much life drawing you guys do these days but it doesn't seem to be as much as we used to do. I used to love sketching people in the mall and on trains... although gone are the days when I was gutsy/naiive enough to ask strangers if I could draw them! Personally I prefer drawing people on the street than naked people in a studio, but of coursed that has its advantages too. Which type of life drawing do you want more of? Nude in the studio, clothed on the street, or whichever? Tell me and I'll discuss with jane.

Lisa said...

my goodness this IS a long thread. All i can add is when I"m looking at an animator's showreel work I look at the animation first. Story is very important, but not as much in a showreel. I want to see that they can animate and animate well, ...story is a nice compliment to it, but I want to see animation if they are applying for an animation role! However, if it's not a showreel, if it's someone's short film or feature film, I love a darn good story in animation. Bring it on...Sometimes the story is so good, and the timing is so sweet, that the level/quality/style of animation takes a back seat to it, and not in a negative way. So I see just two completely different areas of 'animation' all together here, depends on the prority and what you want to animate it for. That's my two cents anyway........

frank said...

Nudio in the studio. Or semi-clad. Whatever. Human figures.

Somewhere where a drawer can concentrate on getting the line-of-action, psychological gestures, perspective, anatomy and foreshortening correct in a number of variations.

Without worrying about having to be clandestine, or the model walking away, or the train arriving and whisking away the bench full of seated models on the opposite platform, or fear the after effects of the government anti-terror legislation.

(Wandering Samurai were executed as spies if they were caught sketching in public places in medieval Japan. And that's where we were heading before the recent election. Phone rings at ASIO: "Hey there's some guy sketching people in the Queens St Mall/ Southbank Railway station, and he looks a bit scruffy.").

Studio life drawing.

I was wondering, if it was a political move to limit the in-studio life drawing because students were uncomfortable with participation? (Thus, possibly, adding to drop-out rates?)

Ian said...

This thread has been of significant value to me, as I flesh out my feelings on the issue. But there is a nagging thought in the back of my mind, its been ticking over there for days now and it won’t go away.

All of my logic screams that the students need to be robbed of the creative freedom a story offers because experience has taught us that almost all of them will use it as a way to avoid the kind of animation they find confronting (exactly the animation they should be doing). But this is totally at odds with the philosophies of studios I admire. The interview with Ed Catmull on Spline Doctors for example, here we have a co founding member of Pixar and expresses his appreciation for the way Call Arts (I think) teach with an emphasis on story. Gobelins is another example of a brilliant school that tells stories.


The only way I can see that they get it to work is that they must exercise a lot of control over the students stories. If only we knew a student from one of these places to ask.

So maybe I’m copping out!

Maybe getting the students to make reels instead of stories saves me from confronting the students about the weaknesses in their stories and ultimately making them a pass or fail issue. What if we could issue them with a brief before they start that went something like this (this is just off the top of my head).

To Pass

@# Your Film must contain at least three physical action scenes (running, jumping, lifting, walking, throwing, fighting etc).

@# Your film must contain at least on scene that depicts a characters emotional journey (a thought process at work).

@# Your film must contain at least one scene that shows a character speaking a line of dialogue (at least 8 words).

@# These essential scene MUST be the first completed, only after they are approved by all animation teachers can you continue with the remaining scenes required to tell the story.

@# The film must be shorter than 2 mins with an emphasis on quality instead of quality. (Actually I think this should be 1 min, but not sure what the other teachers would think about that)

@# The required scenes (points 1 to 3) must start to feature in the film within the first 20 seconds.

@# The story is 100% subject to change buy the teachers to avoid clichés, unnecessarily crude or unsuitable content. If all three teachers agree that a change is required then that change must be implemented in order to pass.

The trick then would be for us (the teachers) to stick to our guns, that might sound simple to others reading, but we are all so bloody amiable.

This is weird, have I talked myself out of favouring reels over stories, or is this just a pipe dream. I’ve talked to the other teachers in the past about the expectation of creative freedom Australian students tend to bring with them to animation school, I have no idea where it comes from, they just assume for some reason that they will be able to animate what ever they want.

Could students be forced into conforming to these kinds of guidelines?

frank said...

Yeah, Ian, I like it. Throw in a few seconds of moving to music.

Make the story 30 seconds. 40 seconds at most. As many of us will be animating short clips for phones and ipods.

Then the 30 second story could be part of a showreel.

Ian said...

I'll have to talk to Terry and Jane about it.

frank said...

There's a question on the AnimatorMentor FAQs:

"How important is having a Diploma in the Animation Industry?

Having a diploma or degree doesn't guarantee you work. A strong demo reel showing the prospective studio that you have the skill is #1. Having a solid demo reel gets you in the door, and attitude determines if you get the job..."

jane said...

well you could jump out of a highrise wearing a parachute...we have choices in how we do things in this life...

hi all, i'm very late into this overall discussion about whether or not short animated films should be an option in this course. I've been away quite a bit over this christmas break, so am just back reading all the various opinions that have been shared in the last few weeks(?). So I'm not sure if any one will even read this, perhaps you're all over it by now...I'll throw in my two cents worth anyway,I take on board the life drawing issue a bit later.

My initial thoughts are: There's a role and responsibility of the teaching staff to prepare students for this industry, to enhance their chances in gaining employment in the animation industry, through class projects that train them in the nuts and bolts of classic animation principles and drawing.The student should exit the program with sufficient skills to work in-house or freelance.Be a skilled animator in every sense of the word as ian has outlined.

However, Animation embraces many other disciplines in the creative industries and many students enroling in this training program don't necessarily want to be animators in the classic sense. Some simply want to get training in how to make a short animated film.This is an additional tool to other skills they have as a creative person.And then, to be honest, there's quite a few students who end up in the course, young, and not so sure if this is what they want to do at all.

The training program and its facilitators need to consider user reasons for doing the course to cater to a variety of interests and outcomes that suit the student and the industry.Although, perhaps we need to be more direct and prescriptive in our approach as Ian is suggesting, in what students are expected to do.

Herein is the main issue up for discussion - should our program make room for short narrative films to be produced? There's a whole heap of considerations at play here and obviously there are some who feel we should focus on showreel sequences only,(some rock solid reasons put forward) because we need to address industry needs.That's why the course exists primarily - to produce people who can offer the skills needed. Showreels provide evidence of a students ability to animate objects and characters. That's what someone hiring people wants to see (i understand) - good drawing, understanding of motion and mood dynamics in objects and characters,life drawing, understanding of key and in-betweens timing etc.

A short film can demonstrate this also. If planned and produced properly. admittedly ,Student films traditionally fall very short in this area. Having the time to do a good job is a major reason, considering all the other units of study in an average semester.

All this raises some interesting musings:
Is animation about telling stories or is it about technical excellence and well developed understanding of all the principles that go into giving the illusion of comic or dramatic movement and emotion to a character or object?

The answer would seem to me, that it's both.

Animation, the word, or term, simply means movement. An industry has grown up around this term, and to be an animator, you need certain types of knowledge and you need to apply that knowledge in a practical sense - creating a series of drawings/images that when played together give the illusion of movement, imitate real life, give life to a two dimensional thing.

there's much more to the technical side of producing animation and Ian has made this really clear and makes some very valid points about it. If anyone knows their stuff in this area, it's Ian and I have enormous respect for what he knows and what he demonstrates in practical application.

Aside from these considerations, the question needs to be asked-what purpose does animation serve out in the global community? Who is the market/audience. what do they like and value? Let's face it, the only people who really care about the nitty gritty technical aspects of an animation are animators, the general public likes interesting characters in interesting stories, they aren't necessarily looking for faults, or making judgements about how well a character was animated. Mind you, they've had no reason to question anything because contemporary feature films we've seen in the last decade have been so impressive in terms of technical aspects and character acting.(well trained and skilled animators doing their job). These productions stand out from others.

We are bombarded with animation in so many area's and the internet has superceded television in providing a menu for a variety of animation styles and idea's every single minute of the day! people are out there producing animation and posting it up in cyber space for all sorts of reasons, some of the animation is appalling some is great. amateurs and professionals alike are in on it. The bulk of this activity is around using animation to progress an idea or story, say something funny or sad or provocative - but it's all mini-stories.The style or design of the characters and the soundtrack is part of it too, some more professional than others.But it's big business and part of our lives in the internet age.

Animation can be described as both an art form and a trade. Aside from pencil and computer, it is truly enhanced by a thinking human being with a creative imagination.

Ultimately, all those wonderfully rendered images, following the principles of motion and becoming a skillfully manipulated character expressing emotion and believability to the audience, takes place within a story. The ultimate aim of any animated thing is to become part of a narrative, whether a big, sprawling saga, or a 30 second ad.

For these reasons, I feel animation students need to be coached in the art of telling a story . And shown ways to listen to and interpret a story also, considering the characters role and emotional self within the story.Ultimately this is useful when they draw the character acting . As Ian has pointed out, a showreel can display a series of character actions which in a way tell a story of how that character is feeling in a moment of time.It has an important place in demonstrating the students animation skills.But they need to appreciate characters within contexts to enhance their drawing, and narrative theory is a worthy subject.

So I still feel there is possibility for students wishing to make a short narrative film, to have the opportunity to do so.

In their working life they may apply skills in a variety of areas.
Developing idea's effectively is an important trait to me.

I concur with Terry, over the years I think we have seen some interesting short films produced in this program. Ok rough around the edges, no doubt, but the stories have been sound enough, and translation from verbal state to visual story in filmed layout, reasonable.There's been many that have not made the mark at all, that's for sure, and certainly the animation has been very dodgy. Thankfully, with Ians input there are significant improvements in students animated character exercises and application of general design principles.Might I say the expansion of the teaching team from two to three staff has help considerably in recent years.

I think we do have resources to foster the production of short uncomplicated, interesting narrative films, that use varied techniques. I do feel we can reintroduce a scripting/narrative theory class into the program and give students an option under strict guidelines and production deadlines. Terry has done some great work in putting together narrative theory sessions, and I certainly would like to re-visit some scripting exercises of my own.

Ian has raised some important points however, and I feel also, time is our biggest problem in this program. If we have a narrative program do we compromise time given to animation drawing principles.Students need to take the initiative and be more disciplined in their approach to project work too. is this possible?

Worth further discussion. What do students think?

I feel IDEA's, well developed are a major success element of any animation production.(and a soundtrack also)

There's so many variables around this topic of animation. We all have our opinions on it.It involves so much, so many skills sets and types of knowledge, styles, genres, designs, techniques.It is used in so many different contexts That's what makes it the artform of the 21st century (Paul Wells) I think we need to keep that in mind.

Finally, the life drawing issue - I agree Frank, we need more of it. but life drawing is not just drawing a model in a studio. We need to get out more as a group and sketch people in the outdoors, and other settings, and each other. In our new facilities, our request for a lifedrawing area was overlooked, so we are in a dilemma, but I hope to get something organised, but I will be having more outdoors field trips and working with the performing art students as well.

frank said...

Jane, that's more than 2c worth. More like priceless.

I thought it polite to demonstrate that your thoughts have been read.

If short narrative student films are of good quality, I'm sure they will benefit more than just the student in gaining employment.

I've been seeing some advertising for SBIT on the TV and it is very general info. A split second flash and token mention of 'Creative Industries'. No mention of Animation.

If the Institute wants the course surely it would promote it a bit better? Or help the course promote itself a bit better? We all turn up on day 1 with our head in the Disney/Pixar/Ghibli rendered clouds. And then you have to spend precious teaching tiime shattering illusions and massaging bruised dreams.

Anyway, if a student narrative is good work, then it can be used to promote the course, build up applications, and increase the quality output of the course. Thus setting up a self generating system. "Tell 'im he's dreaming".

Good narratives can win festivals and generate interest.

We just need the talent, craft skills and application to produce them. I'm not sure the course is at that point.

If that is the goal, then I think, with no experience and only the power of observation, that 2 years is a minimum amount of time for it. The story production should start at day 1.

That is, learn the principles of the craft and apply them to a narrative film project for 2 years.

frank said...

The previous post has lots of holes in it.

The direction suggested there could be questioned as to whether it prepares a student for employment in the industry.

In the industry where?

Let's face it, it would be somewhere in Brisbane, or the eastern states of Australia.

What does the indusrty dictate to the course in terms of industry needs?

Not many narrative opportunites?

More 3D games and possibly advertising jobs.

frank said...

I can definitely see the benefit of an undergraduate broad based course for students who are unsure about what they want to do in a career, and have a talent for drawing.

By providing a diverse array of subjects about art, animation culture, animation history, anatomy, biomechanics, script writing, storyboarding... is good groundwork to then more specifically pursue animation study at a University level.

The certificate and diploma course becomes a feeder to a post-diploma degree. Where hopefully in the 3rd year a lot of animating can be done for those then set on animating. Or illustrators can take their skills into an illustration/art degree. Comic book producers can find their wings by producing graphics and so on.

That's another aspect of the course but doesn't produce industry ready animators after 2 years.

Maybe that approach faces the fact that it is not possible to produce industry ready animators in just two years?

frank said...

Is the course to be "Story telling using aspects of animation theory" or "How to animate".

As Jane describes, they are not separate issues. It's just that time management may force their separation into more easily digestible portions.

I guess the focus is directed by the teachers and their skills.

Thankfully, our teachers are excellent and diverse. They would have to be the best combination I have come across. (That's speaking from experience of 7 years in tertiary courses).

There's benefits in both narrative and skills practice approaches.

Certainly the time consuming work, hard grind of a "How to animate" course, that mimics the work output expectations of a studio ('9to5, 5-to-whenever', seems the appropriate quote) will see a greater attrition of students and threaten the course viability.

Should we get preparation for the output work production (money making) expectations of the industry? I think so.

Or do we aim for higher ideals of artistic merit and personal development and let are passion drag us to the top of the art? That pyramid is built on a lot of failed careers and hungry nights.

It's fantasticly brilliant scratching and paring away at these thoughts to find a resolution.

At this point I still reckon a show reel for the second year.

And, amongst the workload of 1st year, drag the students through the creation of a 60 second collaborative narrative to cure them of their dreams, and face the reality of building skills before attempting it again.

frank said...

But wait... there's more.

When my dad trained as an architect in Germany in the 1950s they still had journeyman training.

That is, to become an architect, he had to spend some time working with all the building trades.

When he eventually got to Australia, this served him well as he worked as a bricklayer until he could learn better English and secure a job as an architectural draftsman and then on to being an architect.

I see being an animator as being the architect of a story. Or at least the architect of animation (but as Jane shows us, there is a story in all animations).

So we need to spend some time sitting in all the animation skill sets to become the animator. Or do we?

I think that is a Cal Arts approach as well, that was the school with a well rounded arts background approach to producing animators. I'm pretty sure that's how Brad Bird described it in an interview. So when he went (back) to Disney as a young animator he 'Knew what happened in the process, before and after," his part in it and that helped be a better animator (or at least ask more questions about exploring possibilities, rather than being accepting).

Do we get to sit in those job seats (where those hats) more effectively making a narrative story animation or a show reel?

What seats are best sat in within a 2 year time limit?

Hmmm, I wonder.

There's more seats now as well. Or the seats are constantly shifting on the rocking ship of the animation industry.